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Catskills Olympian Margie Engle Wins $10,000 Welcome Stake At HITS Catskills Season Opener

ELLENVILLE, NY (May 23, 2001)--Olympian Margie Engle, 43, of Wellington, Florida, riding Reggae bested a field of 21 riders at HITS Catskills in Ellenville, New York, today, to win the $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake on opening day of the six-event summer series. Engle also placed fourth with Hidden Creek's Alvaretto, her mount from the World Cup Final in Sweden last month. Reggae's win today brought home $3,000 for owner Robert Pergament. Paul Duffy of Claregalway, Ireland, was the course designer.

Rain had soaked the show grounds since Monday, but the all-weather rings withstood the downpours. "The footing is great," commented Engle. "With this rain, most places would have been a real mess. You didn't see any of the horses slipping or having trouble with the footing. It held up really nice." Course Designer Duffy said that he did not have to adjust his design to accommodate the rain. "These sand arenas actually jump better with a lot of rain. If the weather's fine, we water them to keep them compacted. The footing was absolutely perfect today."

The $10,000 Welcome Stake is conducted and scored under Table II.2.b, which requires riders to jump the Round One course, and if they are clear, immediately jump the Jump-Off course. Duffy built a 10-element Round One that included a double at Fence No. 4 and a triple at Fence No. 6 with Time Allowed set at 71 seconds. Eleven riders rode clean first rounds and stayed on the field to jump the six-obstacle short course that had Time Allowed set at 42 seconds.

Of the clears, the first eight all had faults in their Jump-Off round. Ninth to go was Michael Dorman riding Quriel who had the first clear round and set the Jump Off pace at 39.047 seconds. He held the lead over the next rider, but then Engle rocketed around the course on Reggae for a clean trip in 33.869, almost five seconds faster. Dorman, who rode four horses in this class, had one more opportunity to come back and take the lead with Dumbo de Chapelle, the last horse on course, but he had a rail in Round One and did not move on to the Jump-Off, giving Engle the win. Dorman placed second with Quriel, the only other double clear of the field, taking home $2,200 for owner/trainer Wyndmont Inc. and Ronnie Beard. Third place went to Vanessa Stevenson on her Fortunato who was fast at 34.654, but had the unfortunate last rail down in the jump-off, earning $1,500.

Engle said she has jumped Duffy's courses in Europe and the U.S. many times and commented, "I think he's a great course designer."

Reggae is a 16.3-hand, 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Ramiro out of a Lady Killer mare "He's probably one of my fastest horses," said Engle who has been riding Reggae for three years. "He's a really fun horse to ride. He's just naturally very quick, very careful, and very sweet around the barn. He really enjoys what he's doing. He turns great, he's ready right through the turns everywhere, and jumps well at a faster pace. A lot of horses get a little flat but he seems to thrive on going fast. He's probably the fastest one I've had since Saluut a long time ago. A lot of horses don't like going fast and they don't stay as careful. He almost gets sharper when he goes fast."

Engle plans to ride Reggae in the $100,000 EMO Grand Prix on Sunday, May 27, but until then he won't compete. Reggae had a bout with pneumonia following the Olympic selection trials last summer and has only recently returned to the show ring. "I'll just hack him now until Sunday," said Engle. "I'm going to see what they build. I'm bringing him back slow." Today was Reggae's first day back in competition since his Grand Prix win two weeks ago at a show in Atlanta.

Hidden Creek's Alvaretto, Engle's fourth place horse today, was also her mount at the 1999 Pan American Games in Canada where the U.S. won the team Silver. "Alvaretto needs to show a little more. He hasn't shown since the World Cup in Sweden. He was a little high-strung today. He's a very competitive horse. He's getting a little bit older now--he's 15--but that's not making him any quieter, that's for sure. When I asked him to go fast, he was charging at the jumps." Alvaretto had four faults and took home $1,000 for owner Hidden Creek Farm, also the owners of Engle's mount at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Hidden Creek's Perin. Engle rode Perin to a 10th place tie in the Individual competition and 6th place in the Team competition at the Olympic Games.

Engle brought 20 horses to HITS Catskills to compete during the first two weeks and plans to return to Ellenville for as much of the remaining four events as she can schedule. She commented that the prize money was a draw not only for riders, but possibly for spectators too. "It's hard in our country to build [spectatorship] up. It would be nice to get more spectators out there. It's always nice to have a good crowd. The riders always enjoy it--competing with the crowd behind you out there."

Duffy watched Engle's rounds today and commented, "She's a class rider--Margie is class. Margie's done it all, all down the years." Duffy, 65, is a veteran of more than 30 years of international course designing. This is his third trip to HITS Catskills and he said he liked the new fences in the Grand Prix field. "The new fences are very European--light rails and small rails fall easier. I'm all for that because the real clean horse can get the chance to come out on top. The old heavy poles and deep cups, you can rub and they stay, but you touch these new ones and they're on the ground. You really don't have to be as big as you used to in the olden days. It's a little bit more technical now. This is the trend for the last seven or eight years. 'Technical' is a lovely word. All it means to old boys like me is that it's just a wrong distance and the riders have to handle it. [For example] we used to go 60 feet, now we go 58 or we go 61 or 62. We stretch the horses and we shorten the horses. So I'm half joking, half meaning it when I say, all we do is build wrong distances."

Duffy will be the course designer for Sunday's $100,000 EMO Grand Prix and said that the high stakes prize money is a definite influence on how he will build the course. "Money talks all languages. The riders expect this. They'll be motivated. They know you're not going to jump the $100,000 the same as you jumped the $10,000 today. It's a different ball game altogether."

$10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake, May 23, 2001
HITS Catskills, Ellenville, New York
Course Designer: Paul Duffy

Pl#/Horse/Rider/Owner/Prize Money/Rd 1/ Rd 2/Faults/J-O Time
1/Reggae/Margie Engle/Robert Pergament/$3,000/0-0/33.869
2/Quriel /Michael Dorman/Wyndmont Inc/$2,200/0-0/39.047
3/Fortunato/Vanessa Stevenson/Vanessa Stevenson/$1,500/0-4-/34.654
4/Hidden Creek's Alvaretto/Margie Engle/Hidden Creek Farm/$1,000/0-4/35.553
5/Kinetic/Debbie Dolan-Sweeney/Sagamore Farm/Debbie Dolan/$800/0-4/35.746
6/Roscoe/Mark Jungherr /RA Francoeur/$600/0-4/37.719
7/Diaka De Semilly/Isabelle LaPierre/La Chaudiere Farm/$500 /0-4/39.347
8/Cobra de Garred/Michael Dorman/Caroline Lloyd/$400/0-8/37.007

Number of horses who competed in this class: 21
Class Prize Money: $10,000

HITS Catskills I, May 23-27
HITS Catskills II, May 30-June 3
HITS Catskills III, July 18-22
HITS Catskills IV, July 25-29
HITS Catskills V, August 1-5
HITS Catskills VI, August 29-September 2

May 27 $100,000 EMO Grand Prix 1pm
June 3 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
July 22 $100,000 Avis Grand Prix 1pm
July 29 $100,000 Cosequin® Grand Prix 1pm
August 5 $100,000 Nevele Grande Grand Prix 1pm
September 2 $100,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix 1pm

July 22 Taste of the Hudson Valley For Exhibitors Only 2pm-4pm
July 29 Kids Day 11am-1pm

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